****THIS BLOG CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR VOX MACHINA – KITH & KIN AND CRITICAL ROLE CAMPAIGN ONE****
I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy! We are nearly at the end of January which means that we are almost one twelfth the way through 2022. For some of you that might seem like the year is already flying by and for others it might seem like 2022 has already been the longest year on record. I actually had a pretty great January overall so I really can’t complain. One of the things that helped make my January so awesome was an incredible book called “Vox Machina – Kith and Kin” by Marieke Nijkamp. But before I talk about that, let me quickly talk about the pieces I published in the past week.
Last Sunday, I published a Weekly Blog all about my themes for the year which are Health and Reading. In the past I have talked about deciding on a theme for the year instead of making New Year’s Resolutions. My New Year’s Resolutions don’t really have the best track record. Most would last less than a week let alone a month or the entire year. But when I choose a theme for the year, it helps me get into a mindset where I am focusing on the choices I make and try to steer my life in the right direction. You can read more about themes in the Weekly Blog, but generally, I’m choosing to focus on both my physical and mental health as well as reading more this year. I’m about a month in and so far I’m doing pretty good (not perfect, but good) on both fronts. Then on Wednesday, I published a Poem titled “Write Mad.” This is a Poem all about expressing emotions through writing. To me it’s so important not to conceal emotions. I tend to write with my emotions on my sleeves and yeah, sometimes it’s too much or could be considered cringy, but that’s just me. I think for most of my readers (not to speak on your behalf), everyone seems to buy in and embrace the over emotional poems. So yeah if you are a writer out there and you’re reading this, write mad and let those emotions show in your writing! If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out both pieces, I definitely recommend it. There are over 700 pieces on the website so there should be something that anyone can enjoy reading.
I want to move on to the main subject of this Week’s Weekly Blog which is Vox Machina – Kith & Kin. Now if you know me or if you haven spent any time on this website you’ll know that I love Dungeons and Dragons and more specifically, I love Critical Role. For those who are not aware, Critical Role is a show streamed on Twitch where a group of voice actors, who are all best friends, play Dungeons and Dragons together. Currently they are playing their third campaign (which I haven’t talked about for some reason), but I started watching when their first campaign was airing. Before finding Critical Role I had heard about Dungeons and Dragons, but Critical Role really showed me how incredible D&D is and how much potential it has to tell fantastic stories. I watched this group of adventurers called Vox Machina, liberate towns from vampires, kill dragons, fight gods, and so much more. All the while they were having deep character arcs filled with laughter, tears, heartbreak, rage, and more. I hold Critical Role in a special place in my heart and all the characters from Vox Machina are some of my favorites.
So how does that connect to the book I read? Well, dear reader, with Critical Role’s success it has led to things like Official Funko Pops, An Animated Series (which I will be talking about in a future Weekly Blog), and several books. “Vox Machina – Kith & Kin” is the first (and hopefully not last) novel from Critical Role. This book tells the story of twin half-elves Vax’ildan and Vex’ahlia and takes place before the show started to stream on Twitch. It’s sort of an origin story of Vav and Vex before they met the rest of Vox Machina. And let me tell you, I loved this book. Obviously I love Critical Role and know these characters well, but I think this book tells a great story that anyone could read. You don’t have to know anything about Critical Role or Dungeons and Dragons to enjoy this book. So if you read this far and you haven’t read this book, beware that there are spoilers ahead. Go read this book and then come back and read my review.
“Vox Machina – Kith and Kin” follows Vax and Vex as they journey to a town called Westrun. At this point they had been living on their own, taking odd jobs here and there in order to survive. They stop in town to see if there is any work and Vex runs into a minor, noble lord. The lord tries to hit on Vex, but she is not interested in him. Taking offense to this, the lord contacts a thieve’s guild called the Clasp and sends an assassin after Vex. Vax ends up stepping in and he fights the assassin, almost ending the killer’s life. Vax then ends up going to the Clasp to ask them to remove the target on Vex’s back. The Clasp leader agrees to drop the contract on Vex if Vax travels to Jorren Village and steals a ring. Vax assumes that there is much more that the Clasp leader isn’t telling him, but he agrees to retrieve the ring. So Vax’ildan and Vex’ahlia travel toward Jorren Villave when their camp is attacked by ashy zombies called ash walkers. Vax and Vex are separated during the battle. Vex is rescued by a group of riders called the Shadewatch which protects Jorren Village and fights the ash walkers. Vax, on the other hand, is rescued by a group of miners who are outcasts from Jorren Village. The leader of the miners, Thorn, tells Vax that the Shademaster is an outsider who took over the town and forced the miners out. The Shademaster blames the miners for the appearance of the ash walkers and she is determined to kill all of them to protect the town. Thorn even blames the Shademaster for his sister’s death and he wants revenge for the fact his life was ruined. On the other side, Vex meets with the Shademaster named Derowen as well as Derowen’s daughter, Aswin. Derowen tells Vex about how this town has always struggled to find peace and she is trying her best to bring peace and security to this town. Her presence has been a net positive for the town and the miners are the ones who constantly stir up trouble, awaken the ash walkers, and endanger everyone in the town.
This is the central conflict to the entire story. Twins, Vex and Vax are separated and become involved in both sides of this fight. They are trying to become reunited with one another while also trying to figure out what is best for the town and its people. This situation becomes more complex when Vax and Vex figure out that the ring in question belongs to Derowen and it used to keep the ash walkers away from the town. There are also connections to Derowen to the Clasp through her brother. The whole situation is complicated and of course Vex wants to trust Derowen and the Shadewatch while Vax wants to trust and support Thorn and the miners. I’m not going to talk too much into how the whole thing works out, but let’s just say that the two sides do end up fighting one another and there is major bloodshed on both sides. The whole truth gets exposed and the town is left recoiling from this complicated web of truth and lies. The ring is left in the town so they can still be protected from the ash walkers, but Vax and Vex make it out with crucial information pertaining to the clasp. Vax brings this information to the Clasp and uses it as leverage to protect his sister. The Clasp brands Vax with their mark and tells him that they should work together more. Vax thinks on it and leaves with Vex. They decide to travel far away from Westrun and head toward Stilben, which unbeknownst to them, will lead them to the other members of Vox Machina.
This novel was a really fun read that I enjoyed from start to finish. I loved this origin story for Vax and Vex and the deep dive into their backgrounds. I haven’t touched on it yet, but this book also has flashbacks to when Vex and Vax are younger and living with their Elvish Father. It shows how they were raised and how their relationship grew. In many ways Vex and Vax are without a proper home and the only people they can truly trust is each other. It’s really sad, but also touching. This book just adds so much to these already deep and wonderful characters and makes me love them even more. I miss Vox Machina and this book let me live in the world of Critical Role once again. I really hope that this won’t be a one-off novel. I’d love to see more novels telling the origins of all the members of Vox Machina. Give me a book about Keyleth living in Zephrah. Give me a book about how Grog and Pike met up in Westrun. Give me a book about Percy and his time growing up in Whitestone. Give me a book about Scanlan and his travels with Dr. Dranzel’s Spectacular Traveling Troupe. I want them all! So yeah, I definitely recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Critical Role or Dungeons and Dragons. But even if you aren’t or don’t know what that is, pick up this book because it’s a great story with wonderful characters filled with twists and turns. I think you’d really enjoy it. I know I did!
Thank you so much for reading that Weekly Blog reviewing Vox Machina – Kith & Kin. I hope you enjoyed that blog and hopefully I convinced you to pick up the book. I really did enjoy the book and had a blast reading it. It’s crazy how good the content coming out of Critical Role is and I’m loving all of it. If you liked this Weekly Blog, feel free to give it a Like. This way I know what type of stuff you enjoy reading and what stuff I should focus on writing in the future. You can also leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear your thoughts about Vox Machina – Kith & Kin or Critical Role in general. Or if you haven’t read the book, I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading lately. I’m always looking for reading recommendations. If you really liked this Weekly Blog and/or want to read more of the stuff I write, I recommend you Follow Me here on WordPress. I’m trying to build a positive and creative community here on the internet and you Following helps me do that. I’m trying to hit 1,000 Followers by the end of 2022 so please if you are reading this and don’t follow me, make sure you change that. I really do appreciate all the love and support I get from readers new and old. It means the world to me!
Thank you again and I hope you have a fantastic week!
Header Photo Credit to Critical Role’s announcement page for the novel